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Skills Matrix: Importance, Examples & How To Create It

Skills Matrix

With so many different ways of optimizing a team, the skills matrix often becomes overlooked. However, focusing on this tool can benefit your entire company. Consider many of the problems businesses have: difficulty assigning tasks, assessing current skill levels for employees, tracking growth, and so on.

There are expensive and time-consuming products constantly marketed to businesses. However, a key form of competency testing can help you avoid the costs and acquire all the benefits: the skills matrix.

Not only will it benefit you in solving short-term problems, but your long-term goals will also become easier to achieve with its use.

In this article, we will outline what the skills matrix is and how it can positively impact your business.

What is the Skills Matrix?

There are many different strategies businesses use to determine team performance. One of these techniques is the skills matrix. By using a skills matrix, businesses can see the different competency levels of their team. As such, they can find skill gaps to focus on.

This works for both the team and for individuals. So, managers can see the specific skills each employee has and the skills the team as a whole maintains. When assigning tasks, they can better match the employee’s relevant competencies to the tasks they perform.

However, this is not the only use of the skills matrix. Even before they start assigning tasks, they encounter some trouble. Many managers struggle with understanding the skills necessary to optimize performance in certain projects. This is another use for the skills matrix.

What is Skills Matrix Definition & Meaning

When managers create a project, they can use this tool to find the skills that are needed to complete it thoroughly. Then, they can align the employees with those skills to certain tasks with the project.

The skills matrix is so precise, that it can even reveal role-based skill requirements. This is helpful when recruiting, creating job listings, and evaluating employees.

Every employee is given their level of skills. This reveals how developed each of their role-necessary skills are, thus showing both their advanced level skills and missing skills.

Why Is Skills Matrix Important?

Finding the essential skills your team needs to succeed is the first step to an organization and good leadership. Additionally, noticing your current and potential skills gap offers many clear benefits. It is extremely important to stay efficient as a business, and the skills matrix can help you achieve maximum efficiency.

To be specific, some of the top benefits of the skills matrix are:

  • Staying ahead of the competition. When you notice your skills gap ahead of time, you can optimize them before the competition and retain your advantage.
  • Avoid conflicts and long-term problems. Similarly, targeting potential skill gaps through the skill matrix can help you address problems and conflicts before they escalate.
  • Find the best candidates for your business. If you know their skills beforehand, you can ensure there is a candidate/job skill match.
  • Tracking employee growth. You can notice how employees develop skills over time and reward them for this growth.
  • A better understanding of what is needed for success. The skills matrix will give you specific skills that will help you succeed in certain projects.
  • Greater clarity for your employees. Your employees will get a clear image of their skills and gaps.
  • Increased transparency. Everyone on the team can see their role in the organization after taking the skills test. Those who want to climb up the corporate ladder will see what they need to work on to achieve that.
  • Decreased stress and increased efficiency. When one employee is on leave, for instance, you can quickly find who is best suited to replace him/her without stress.

Example of a Skills Matrix

There are 2 categories that every skill matrix has. These are the level of interest as well as the level of competency. The interest level is a simple yes/no to the question: are you interested/passionate about this skill and the tasks associated with it?

On the other hand, the competency rating is a bit more intricate. You can use a broader and less detailed system, ranging from no competency, baseline/general competency, intermediate competency, and finally advanced competency.

The more detailed approach uses the following system: lack of skill (no knowledge of skill application), novice (simple understanding of the skill), professional (fulfills the role you need them to do), expert (has extensive experience using the skill and demonstrated advanced skill ability), and top expert (a leading ability for using this skill and immense experience in using it). Thus, you can rank skills on a scale of 1-4 or 1-5.

For example, there could be a technician. He could be extremely interested in creative thinking, problem-solving, organization, data analysis, and code. His skills matrix could be as follows for those abilities: 3, 4, 4, 5, 5 after an assessment.

His underdeveloped skills (customer service, teamwork, design, and leadership) could be 2, 2, 1, and 1.5 based on prior experience and skill assessment. He would also be uninterested in these skills.

Another example of this could be a graphic designer. Using the same previously listed skills, the graphic designer might be interested in teamwork, leadership, design, and creative thinking.

They would be uninterested in code, data analysis, organization, and customer service. Their skill matrix could look like this: customer service (2), leadership (4), design (5), creative thinking (4), teamwork (3), data analysis (2), and code (2).

How To Create a Skills Matrix? Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you know the key benefits of competency matrixes, you may be wondering: how do I create one in my business? In general, there are four key steps you should take. After you do this, you will be on the track to achieving success and maximizing skill development.

The key steps you must take are listed below.

Determine the skills needed to complete a project

Even before you start a project, you should clearly understand the skills that are necessary for maximized success. The key is to be as specific as possible. Instead of just “people skills” or “soft skills” for example, say “communication” or “collaboration” and elaborate on how that skill is used throughout the project.

Gauge each team member’s current level of skills

After that, you must test each of your team member’s current skills and specifically the skills needed for success in the project at hand. One way to do this is by observing how efficient employees are in certain tasks. However, a better way to gauge team member skills is by administering a competency test.

Assign a level of skills to each employee after you administer this test. The most commonly used skill levels are no necessary skills, minimal level of relevant skills, intermediate level of skill, and thorough/advanced level of skill.

Rate each team member’s level of interest in a skill

Once you understand the current level of skills possessed by each employee, list every employee’s interest in a certain skill. It is crucial to not only understand their current competency but what they are motivated and curious about for the future.

This level of interest should also be considered when assigning tasks, since passion and interest are crucial when maximizing success, reducing burnout, and retaining creativity. You can simply ask individuals about their interest levels and write down a yes/no interest response.

Use the information from the skills matrix to determine any missing skills needed

Understanding the relevant skills employees currently have is important, but recognizing missing skill sets is even more crucial.  You can use the information previously gathered to see and address these gaps.

After that, you can mentor employees, help them find tasks that can build these skills, and ensure team members have tasks that are suited to their skills. When hiring, you can also consider your team’s current skill gaps to find the best candidates for a balanced team.

How To Improve Skills Matrix?

The skills matrix is an incredible tool to achieve your goals as a business. It helps optimize task alignment, increases employee confidence, and provides many other benefits as well. However, there are ways to also optimize the skill matrix results. And, you could improve employee skill gaps as well.

When trying to improve the skills matrix tool, one way to do this is by being as specific as possible. Many individuals create a skills matrix based on vague questions. You must be specific, not only with your questions but also with how you rank employees and detail employee skills.

For instance, instead of just listing down that a certain employee has “collaborative skills,” the question: is to which degree? How is this skill displayed? Is the individual passionate about this skill and the tasks associated with it?

These are all questions that should be kept in mind, asked, and written down to ensure the skill matrix is as precise as possible.

To improve your skill matrix grading system, apply the same level of attention to detail. You can include the following system for maximized information: lack of skill (no knowledge of skill application), novice (simple understanding of the skill), professional (fulfills the role you need them to do), expert (has extensive experience using the skill and demonstrated advanced skill ability), and top expert (a leading ability for using this skill and immense experience in using it).

Another way to optimize the results of the skill matrix is by ensuring all employees are using it. Some businesses start using the skill matrix in a certain department where there is conflict or inefficiency. However, it is beneficial to use the skill matrix with your entire team, not just those who are struggling. This will help you prevent future problems and optimize efficiency.

Additionally, the skill matrix is also an important tool for candidates. Assessing a candidate’s critical skills and skill gaps can help you get a clear understanding of their abilities. This will help you hire those who can fulfill your needs and fill any skill gaps you may have.

Skills Matrix FAQ

What is a skills matrix on a CV?

A skills matrix is a tool that represents your skills and abilities. This is based on past experience, personal strengths, and growth opportunities. The skills matrix individuals sometimes put in their CVs is a table. There, they list the skills they have which are relevant to the job they are applying to.

Your top skills are listed high up on that table, while the skills you have less experience with and are less developed are ranked lower. Along with each skill, there is a proficiency number. This is your estimate of how developed a particular skill is.

Employers use this information to see how you fit into the team and whether you have the abilities they need to get you hired.

How do you create a skill matrix in Excel?

In Excel, you must create a table. From Format, select Table, and choose a style.  Set the number of rows and columns you would like, depending on how many skills you will be adding. Then, begin listing your most well-developed and experience-backed skills at the top of the table along with a proficiency number. Move down the table, with the lowest ranking relevant skills at the bottom

What is the purpose of the skills matrix in the workplace?

There are many reasons individuals use the skill matrix in the workplace. The matrix is useful in identifying skill gaps, which helps maintain efficiency and avoid problems while holding on to a business’s competitive advantage. Finding these skill gaps can help a business hire the best employees to build the best team possible, too.

The skill matrix helps track growth, boosts employee knowledge, better aligns tasks with employee strengths, and increases confidence as well.

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